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He can't see his kids - what to do?

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
My BF is an extremely responsible, caring and decent man. I just want to make that perfectly clear before I move on.

The reason I am posting is that he has lost contact with his two children ages 5 and 7.

Their mother is sick and during bad times she would be abusive and controlling. She has effectively prevented him from having contact with the kids after he left her 3 years ago. In the beginning he kept it up - trying to pick them up at school, for visitation like court had ordered but she would just refuse any contact and told school to call her when he tried to pick them up. Court did nothing. Eventually he had so much debt with lawyers while she had all her bills payed for and would just drag the case endlessly. Any contact he tried to make would trigger her to be abusive and hang up the phone if he called or even rip the phone from the kids if they answered. She told him he would never ever see them again. Eventually he gave up - he thought it was better for the kids not to have to witness all that. He felt he has exhausted his options - and it hurt too much I guess.
He sends presents for birthdays and christmas but doesnt even know if the kids get them and if they do if she tells them its from him. When his parents send gifts, they are returned by mail.

The legal system in the country she is staying in doesnt leave him any options and any contact with her is very hard on him emotionally. She knows him very well and will be deliberately hurtful whenever he talks with her.
What should he do? If he writes them letters most likely they wont get them, or she would read through them. Ideas?

(remember its not the US so he really is out of legal options. Even though court has granted him visitation, she just doesnt allow it and the system really doesn't care)
post #2 of 63
I don't have much advice for now, but what about when your boyfriend sends cards and gifts being mailed so that they have to be signed for, and then your boyfriend will have a reciept, and a statement saying whether she received it or refused to sign for it, as "proof" that he didn't give up on contacting his children. That way, if it comes to him never seeing them again during their childhood (), when they're adults, they will know he tried, so maybe the relationship wouldn't be permanently over?

I wish I had more advice for now, when they're little. I can't imagine how your boyfriend must be feeling.
post #3 of 63
I cant really help either. Thats so sad.

Were they in the other country when they split up? Is that where the kids were born? I'm just wondering if there would be any possible way to get the US courts involved.

I'd also be rather worried if she is sick like you say having her have them to begin with. How can he be sure she isnt being abusive? Whether physically or emotionally. I mean, preventing them from seeing their father for no reason other than she's mad is rather extreme. What if they make her mad, will she not let them have food? Will she lock them in their rooms? It'd scare me, to say the least.

I do think sending mail/gifts certified is a good idea. Maybe even taking a pic with the gifts before sending them off as a reminder. I mean, she could be giving them the gifts and saying she bought them, you know? I'd also suggest maybe keeping a journal-something he can write in, saying how he misses them, etc.

Reassure him that their relationship doesnt have to end. I mean, dad's that really do abandon their kids are still often forgiven. Heck, my dad left before I was born and I've met him maybe 4 times in my entire life. I still dont hate him-I dont really have much love for him either, but if he were to show up and say I'm sorry, I'd like to be a father now, I'd welcome him. Your bf has the benefit of showing he tried, he wanted to be there, he sent them things, he missed them. Who knows, they might end up hating their mother for all of this-I know I would.

I hope you can figure something out though.
post #4 of 63
Well, what country is she in with the kids, and what country is he in?
post #5 of 63
Quote:
...and any contact with her is very hard on him emotionally. She knows him very well and will be deliberately hurtful whenever he talks with her...
Why is this a factor? What could she possibly say to him that would be harder on him emotionally than not seeing his children?
post #6 of 63
Thread Starter 
Its all so complicated. I would prefer not to get into too much detail in this public setting but will try to answer some of the questions as best I can without giving away too much.

She has a chronic mental illness and is doing ok when medicated. During pregnancies she had to go off meds and abusive behaviour was linked with going off meds. (apart from the part where she refused him contact with the kids - when he left she was back on meds and stable, but very hurt/angry that he left) BF says she was always a loving mother. I know he feels he could do better himself but thats not really an option now.

She is in the UK where they were married and the kids were born. After he gave up on seeing his kids he moved back to his home country (where I also live) - a different european country that is. UK laws are such that because he was earning all the money and she was a SAHM she can get support to pay lawyers -and he cant. And considering a lawyer is easily 500$ an hour then all she really had to do was drag the case endlessly and eventually he was in so much debt he had to let it go. Court already decided for him to have visitation but she just refused - his only option to respond to that was to take her to court again. And the same thing could happen over and over. Also that was not the only court issue she was fighting him on. She also refused to share assets (she is still living in a house that is partially his - and that he payed for) and refused to divorce him and expected him to fight her on those things too. Eventually he felt it was completely hopeless to keep fighting. He knew that once assets were shared she would have to leave the house with the kids and all the money he would get from it would go towards paying lawyers. He felt the kids would be better off being able to grow up in the house rather than her finding some shitty appartment for them to live in and him spending all the money to pay off lawyers. And even after all that he would still have no quarantee that he could see his kids. That would still depend on whether she would let him. So he left it all behind. Including a shared savings account with quite a lot of money in it and the house that he has payed for (in full).

As for what she will say to hurt him - well she does enjoy rubbing it in how he "abandoned his kids". Ofcourse that is not true, but BF being very responsible feels guilty nonetheless.

Right now he is sending the kids presents for birthdays and christmas but apart from that I think he is trying to block it all out. He does keep a picture of them on the wall in his appartment, but only one. He says its too painful to be confronted with it all the time. I think for the same reason he hasnt been writing them letters or the like.

So yes, its a pretty tragic story. And despite all that she has done to him and the kids - he has always spoken respectfully of her - with empathy and compassion. How he does it is beyond my comprehension. :
post #7 of 63
How long have you been seeing this guy? I'm not doubting his story, double checking that you are positive his version is accurate... if it is, that's really sad, and I would think that there must be some way for him to address the issues without paying a super expensive lawyer -- is there really no other way to report non-compliance than to go back to court with lawyers?

this sounds like a sad situation all around -- she is obviously really hurt and unstable, and the kids are suffering (as well as your BF)... I don't have any answers, but maybe he can find a way to continue to fight for visitation if he really wants to be a part of their lives.
post #8 of 63
I feel for you, watching someone you love go through this. My husband was in a very similar situation - here in the US - and for years, our courts didn't care, either. Ultimately, he got just the right judge who gave him sole custody.

Overall, I will just take your word for it that there's nothing else he can do. I am certainly no expert on European family courts. (Just one thought before I move on from there: My husband was advised by 3 different attorneys there was nothing he could do, either. He also spent all his savings. But he plunged on, sometimes without representation [which eliminates most of the cost]. In any event, your BF should still keep abreast of the laws and the case-law, rather than deciding to give up forever, no matter what. He may learn someday that his kids are being abused and need to try again to intervene, for their sake. How it makes him feel to communicate with his ex shouldn't be a factor. If there's really nothing he can do, that's one thing. But an adult doesn't give up on their kids simply because it's too upsetting to try.)

I like a PP's idea of sending things by certified mail, so he can prove to his kids when they're older and independent that he tried. Along the same lines, I'd suggest he keep a journal that he can share with them later, with some of the thoughts and reflections he'd like to share with them, as a parent. It would prove he thinks about them on a regular basis. He should definitely try to reconnect with them as soon as they stop living with their mother - even if they resist at first.
post #9 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiffani View Post
How long have you been seeing this guy? I'm not doubting his story, double checking that you are positive his version is accurate...


Lots of guys say "she won't let me" to excuse abandoning their kids.
post #10 of 63
Honey, I'm in the UK, and I've got a pretty good basic knowledge of the family court system. If I can help in any way, please let me know.

Please, protect yourself and your family and be cautious around this man. From the information you've relayed, it looks like he's either not fully explored all of the legal avenues available to him (is there a language issue there?) or he hasn't been entirely honest with you. He seems particularly vague on what the requirements for divorce are, and generally, the first step for a parent to see their kid is a contact order. This can be enforced with a police warrant where necessary, which is not an agonisingly expensive procedure.

In particular, I'd be very careful about sharing finances with him- I just can't see any way that you'd be able to own a house here outright and be that concerned about the cost of a solicitor, because house prices in the UK are astronomical- the average house price is £160,000, just over a quarter of a million dollars. That's a lot of money to walk away from, especially knowing that he may still be liable for child support. As he's still in Europe, I believe the CSA could yet catch up with him. That's 25% of his earnings for two kids, until they turn 19 or leave school.

: Take care, mama. I get the impression that he isn't divorced yet, and most of this stuff will generally be resolved with the decree nisi. Children, money, the works. Until then, take care of yourself, okay?
post #11 of 63
Thread Starter 
I was kind of expecting people to be suspicious. It's the general reaction when I - or he - tell the story.

I left a verbally abusive partner whom I'd been with for 7 years. I am EXTREMELY aware of any kind of red flags. Nothing in the world makes me more suspicious then someone putting the responsibility on someone else - disregarding their own responsibility - or playing victim or hero. He has never ever done any of that. He even blames himself more than he should. I cannot tell you how almost breathable his pain is when it comes to these things. And yes - he actually is a guy who will walk away from a 400.000$ house because he honestly believes his children are better off this way. As mentioned - yes he could spend his part of the house value on lawyers, but that would mean the kids would have to move out and into a smaller place with their mom and he likes to know where they are and that they have a good place to grow up. He doesnt want to take that away from them and throw it after lawyers. He did what he felt was in their best interest - knowing that she would never rest on the figthing.

He is not the aggressive fighting type person. I know how guilty he sometimes feels for not wanting to, but that is part of why I love him.

He doesnt think the kids are suffering being with their mother. According to him she is a good mother - only he does know that her preventing them from having contact with him obviously isn't such a great idea and he feels horrible thinking how they may feel about that later on. Getting a contact order - he already has one of those but she just prevents the visits or contat to happen. And then he needs to take her back to court. So the law says he can see his kids - but noone was enforcing that law. I researched it and it seems there are some additions to that law that have taken effect from 2008. Its possible he doesnt know about that. I'll tell him. He may want to check that out further.

Oh and ofcourse he is paying childsupport. He is not a person to walk away from responsibility! Especially for his kids. He will take care of them any way he can - and not being able to see them he feels the best way he can take care of them is by leaving her with the house and the savings.

What is a decree nici? I was kind of wondering about what will happen as yes, legally they are still married (even that she wanted to fight him over) and legally he is still the owner of half the house and half the savings. I believe you can have an automatic divorce after 5 years or something? Not sure how it works though. I do know that right now he is still paying almost all of his earnings (and he has a good salary) in debt that he acquired paying for lawyers.
I know for a fact that he is not hiding anything from me. For language barriers that is not a problem. He lived his entire adult life there (14 years) and is highly intelligent. We've been together 9 months and dont live together yet.
post #12 of 63
From my reading of the Economist, divorce laws vary greatly by country in the EU. Since husband resides in one country, wife in another, there is a CHOICE, maybe, of where a divorce takes place. Basically the husband can choose the best country to file in, and the custody order will be enforced by the UK.

My advice? Stay away from married men. Not living together is a good thing right now.
post #13 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SleeplessMommy View Post

My advice? Stay away from married men. Not living together is a good thing right now.
Sorry can't do Im utterly and completely in love with him And since he feels the same way about me then.. He hasn't even seen her for three years. In my world that counts as a divorce. (I only left my ex 18 months ago - who would I be to judge him?) We've discussed all this and we both feel that we belong together. This guys is - as good as they get. Promise

I didnt know he could do anything from here legally speaking. Do you know anything more about that? That's interesting.
post #14 of 63
Based on our experience, where he files is irrelevant because any court with any sense will look at the file, see that there are children involved and send it off to the children's local court who knows the services available.

The decree nisi is the first step of the divorce and is followed by a decree absolute six weeks later, which is done more or less automatically. With the nisi, there should include a statement of financial arrangements and a statement of arrangements for the children. So, for instance, they could agree that the home remains in joint names until the youngest child turns 19, at which point it is to be sold and the value split 50/50, and that could be stipulated in court. There's other options in here, y'know?

I read your second answer, and I'm still telling you to be careful, honey. Just in case. Watch your back.
post #15 of 63
I can't really see why he wouldn't keep fighting this -- surely if the mother isn't abiding by the court ordered visitation, that wouldn't be a lengthy or complicated matter for the courts -- I would think he could even represent himself. I understand what crippling debt feels like, but I'm sure the courts there are reasonable enough to see what is going on, if in fact it is as he says it is... I really hope for your sake that he is who he appears to be, and that you have a wonderful life together, WITH his kids as a part of that life...

best of luck!!
post #16 of 63
When I divorced my ex-husband and applied for a residence order I filed papers here in the UK and they were served on him in Mexico. I had to supply every address I knew of where the papers could be sent and he would be given them. It took him 5 months to get himself back here to sort it out and they waited until he arrived.

I can't see why it should be any different the other way round. If a contact order is already in place then he has every right to go back to the court (in writing if not in person) and they should enforce the order.

The courts here ordered that I should meet my ex at a police station to hand the children over and collect them so that there should be no intimidation in his part when he saw me. It didn't always work but at least they were trying to find a solution.

If he backs away from an existing contact order he can go for another one but risks the court wondering why he didn't pursue the old one. If he has all the paperwork from previous proceedings it isn't hard to go back to court.

I too would be wary of anyone who has not persisted with contact with their children. IME I only had hassle from my ex when he had a new girlfriend who thought that it was outrageous that he didn't see his children. This happened twice and once I was dragged through the whole court palaver again, the other time I had him following the children home from school and then banging on my door.

I'm sorry to say that you sound exactly like those women who pushed my ex to 'fight again' without knowing exactly why I had left him in the first place.

Left to his own devices he really couldn't give a monkeys about the boys and now we haven't seen him or heard from him for 4 years. I'm sure there is another girl out there somewhere who will pop up and tell him he has rights and he should be seeing the children........
post #17 of 63
Thread Starter 
I give up. Some of you are obviously determined to believe that he must have done something wrong. If you aren't willing to take my word for it that he is not "one of those men" and that I am not "one of those women" I wont waste my time trying to convince you.

I would still like constructive inputs. But back off the suspicious attitude please.

For the divorce issue then I bet that's all very simple if both agree to be divorced, but since she didnt it's a whole other story. It's simply another thing to fight over.
post #18 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiffani View Post
I can't really see why he wouldn't keep fighting this -- surely if the mother isn't abiding by the court ordered visitation, that wouldn't be a lengthy or complicated matter for the courts -- I would think he could even represent himself. I understand what crippling debt feels like, but I'm sure the courts there are reasonable enough to see what is going on, if in fact it is as he says it is... I really hope for your sake that he is who he appears to be, and that you have a wonderful life together, WITH his kids as a part of that life...

best of luck!!

You'd be surprised. I'd like to think that's the case, but life's opened my eyes a bit. There are alot of things that seem to anyone who'd "have common sense" that have to be duked out in courts and end up being "not such a big deal" to the right judge, or technicalitied away by a ruthless lawyer.
post #19 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seie View Post
I give up. Some of you are obviously determined to believe that he must have done something wrong. If you aren't willing to take my word for it that he is not "one of those men" and that I am not "one of those women" I wont waste my time trying to convince you.

I would still like constructive inputs. But back off the suspicious attitude please.

For the divorce issue then I bet that's all very simple if both agree to be divorced, but since she didnt it's a whole other story. It's simply another thing to fight over.
Well, you say that he has only ONE picture of his kids, and he doesn't write them letters or talk to them on the phone. It sounds to me like he is choosing this, not the other way around. I know that isn't what he is telling *you* but that is exactly what it sounds like. There is nothing, NOTHING that would stop me from writing/calling my kids. That is not normal behavior for an 'involved' parent.
post #20 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seie View Post
Sorry can't do Im utterly and completely in love with him And since he feels the same way about me then.. He hasn't even seen her for three years. In my world that counts as a divorce. (I only left my ex 18 months ago - who would I be to judge him?) We've discussed all this and we both feel that we belong together. This guys is - as good as they get. Promise

I didnt know he could do anything from here legally speaking. Do you know anything more about that? That's interesting.
If he wants to see his children then why isn't *HE* the one researching to find out what he needs to do to make that happen? That is what isn't making sense to me. I'm sorry but it doesn't sound like he is doing everything he can to see his kids.

I am not saying that to be hurtful. It comes across plain as day in the things that you posted. Any advice you get here are things that your boyfriend has had YEARS to figure out if he was interested. You should really be careful. Especially since you haven't heard the other side of the story.
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